James is an established expert in the insurance and reinsurance field, well known for both detailed legal and strategic advice and for effective problem solving. He has advised numerous major participants in the worldwide insurance and reinsurance markets on insurance and reinsurance claims, coverage questions and disputes, and on the contractual terms and conditions of many varieties of insurance and reinsurance cover. He has also advised corporate buyers of insurance on contract terms and conditions and handled claims and coverage disputes.
Over the years, his work has entailed dealing with major international market loss events and situations, such as Piper Alpha, Phillips Petroleum, the 2011 Japanese tsunami, the 2011 New Zealand earthquakes and the stream of exposures resulting from asbestos-related diseases and environmental pollution.
His work covers both property and liability coverage and he has dealt with complex insurance situations and exposures arising from significant, widely reported events affecting the financial markets, such as the collapse of Barings Bank, the collapse of WorldCom, film finance transactions, the buyback of stock option grants and the Argentine economic crisis of 2002.
He advises on the management of insurance and reinsurance portfolios in runoff and has recently advised on contingency planning in preparation for the UK’s exit from the European Union.
He also handles contractual disputes in other areas of commerce and has managed substantial High Court litigation, appeal proceedings, arbitration processes and various ADR procedures.
- Insurance contract terms and conditions
- Facultative and treaty reinsurance
- Captive insurance and global programmes
- Broker duties
- Underwriting agency relationships / delegated authorities
- Underwriting pools
- Pharmaceutical claims
- Marine and offshore energy claims
- Political and trade credit risks
- Directors’ and officers’ liabilities
- Property damage and business interruption claims
- Mining risks
- Banking risks
- Insurance linked securities and collateralised reinsurance transactions
- Life sciences risks, including clinical trials
- Construction and engineering risks
- Long-tail liability exposures (e.g. asbestos-related diseases and environmental pollution)
Insurance & Reinsurance
- Successfully represented a German reinsurance company in the recovery of reinsurance claims paid by mistake (with recovery achieved without need for proceedings).
- Advised a major European insurance and reinsurance company on the terms and conditions of an intra-group quota share reinsurance agreement and set-off rights in the event of the insolvency of the reinsured, for the purposes of meeting regulatory requirements.
- Advised reinsurer of worldwide property catastrophe risks on terms of collateralised reinsurance contract exposed to major earthquake losses.
- Advised a life insurance company on potential exposure under a contractual indemnity clause in a sale and purchase agreement relating to disposal of a Canadian life insurance company.
- Advised a major European insurance group on terms and conditions of Scheme of Arrangement in respect of an insolvent insurance company and on associated reinsurance-related issues.
- Advised a major European insurance group on contractual, regulatory and strategic issues relating to an extended warranty motor insurance programme.
- Advised German reinsurers on English law issues relevant to underwriting pool operations.
- Advised a global reinsurer on offshore energy claims relating to drilling operations off the coast of Nigeria.
- Advised a major global reinsurer on issues arising under a facultative retrocession contract and recovery of an offshore energy claim made thereunder.
- Represented a mining group in relation to the recovery of a substantial property damage and business interruption claim arising from the collapse of an open pit at a Zambian copper mine.
- Represented a French reinsurance company in the defence of claims derived from the Cuban sugar trade and the gas transportation sector in Argentina.
Coverage Questions & Disputes
- Advised a major European insurance group on quota share and excess of loss reinsurance exposure to French construction and engineering claims; advised on defences available and on commutation negotiations with reinsured.
- Advised a major European insurer on exposure to claims subject to an investor class action in Belgian courts.
- Represented an international bank in a dispute concerning the recovery of a bankers’ professional indemnity claim originating from a bond offering in New York.
Medical & Pharmaceutical Claims
- Successfully defended a German reinsurance company in arbitration proceedings relating to a pharmaceutical liability claim presented under excess of loss reinsurance contract.
- Advised sponsors of clinical trials on the effect of various clinical trial and cyber risk insurance contracts in the context of ongoing transactions entailing clinical trial and master services agreements.
- Advised lenders on the scope of potential borrowers’ liability insurances in the context of a medical device-related liability claim.
- AXA Re v Ace Global Markets – Commercial Court decision regarding the effect of a court jurisdiction clause in a reinsurance contract (representing AXA Re).
- Garnat Trading & Shipping (Singapore) v Baominh Insurance – Court of Appeal decision on whether marine insurance policy was void for material non-disclosure and whether the implied warranty of seaworthiness was breached (representing Baominh Insurance).
- Groupama v Catatumbo CA Seguros – Court of Appeal decision regarding governing the law of warranty in a reinsurance contract (representing Groupama).
- Akai Pty Ltd v People’s Insurance – Commercial Court decision concerning a jurisdictional dispute affecting a credit insurance policy (representing Akai).
- Konkola Copper Mines v Coromin – Commercial Court decision concerning jurisdictional issues affecting a global insurance and reinsurance programme for Zambian copper mining risks (representing Konkola Copper Mines).
Please note: The experience list above may include examples of work completed prior to joining Keystone Law.
Recognised in Chambers UK (2022-2023) for Insurance: Contentious Claims & Reinsurance
“James is scrupulous with respect to detail and exceptionally invested in client service.” Chambers UK 2023
“He is diligent, has good client management skills and gives good commercial advice.” Chambers UK 2023
Recognised by The Legal 500 (2020-2023) for Insurance and Reinsurance Litigation
“James Crabtree is a fantastic solicitor.” The Legal 500 2023
“Keystone has a profound practice in the insurance and reinsurance sector. The quality of advice benefits maximally from the experience and know-how of the individual team members, especially James Crabtree, whose advice is always considered, efficient and to the point.” The Legal 500 2023
“James Crabtree: his knowledge of the insurance and reinsurance sector and industry is very strong and he is an experienced and trustworthy advisor to his clients.” The Legal 500 2023
Recognised in The Best Lawyers in the United Kingdom 2023
“James Crabtree is an absolute expert in his field.” Chambers UK 2022
“He is an exceptionally knowledgeable and meticulous reinsurance practitioner.” Chambers UK 2022
“James Crabtree is an eminent practitioner in insurance and reinsurance law with extensive experience and deep knowledge of the market. He is extremely kind, collaborative and a pleasure to work with.” The Legal 500 2022
“James Crabtree is an outstanding business orientated lawyer, very structured, always on the top of the case.” Legal 500 2021
James Crabtree receives praise from interviewees for being an “extremely detail-oriented solicitor who is exceptionally focused on client service.” Chambers Global 2020
James Crabtree is adept at handling reinsurance disputes concerning a range of insurance coverage types, including those affecting the energy, construction and pharmaceutical industries. Sources consider him to be “a very balanced and sensible” practitioner. Chambers Global 2019
Recognised by the Legal 500 2018 for International Arbitration and Insurance and Reinsurance Litigation
James Crabtree is “strategic and business orientated” Legal 500 2018
James Crabtree is “technically very strong with good attention to detail”. Chambers UK 2018
James Crabtree is described as an “outstanding” and “highly experienced and solution-oriented” lawyer. Legal 500 UK 2017
James Crabtree “receives high praise from clients, who consider him an extremely savvy and well-versed lawyer, familiar with the intricacies of the field.” Other similarly impressed sources describe him as a “very deliberating lawyer, who is calm under pressure” and “provides legal solutions which are both effective and commercial.” Chambers UK 2017
Received Finance Monthly’s Fintech Award for 2017 UK Insurance & Reinsurance Lawyer of the Year.
Listed in Who’s Who Legal, Insurance & Reinsurance, 2018 and in Expert Guides 2018.
James qualified as a solicitor in 1988. Prior to joining Keystone Law in 2018, he worked at the following firms:
- Taylor Wessing
- Pinsent Masons
- Holman Fenwick & Willian